The National World War II Museum – D-Day and Beyond
The National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana offers both a comprehensive and personal look at the twentieth century’s most significant event. Formerly known as the National D-Day museum, the museum opened its doors to the public on the 56th anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 2000. It is conveniently located in New Orleans’ Central Business District, within walking distance of most downtown hotels, and directly off the I-10 expressway. Upon entering the facility through the Louisiana Memorial Pavilion, an original C-47 aircraft is among those who will welcome and introduce you to the site. The staff is friendly with numerous volunteer veterans who can offer intimate knowledge. This coincides with the general feel of the entire location, a look back at history through a personal perspective. In all of the nearly 25 rooms of exhibits, there are audio booths with 4 different personal stories, these tales bring the war out of the history books and newsreels and lets the visitor feel or relive events as they unfolded. The museum is filled with priceless, one-of-a-kind artifacts that can be found nowhere else. The countless historical pieces range all the way from a copy of FDR’s original “Infamy” speech to Truman’s final written approval to drop the atomic bomb. As this structure was originally devoted to the Allied amphibious assault on Europe known as D-Day, the storming of Normandy receives the most complete and extensive coverage of any other part of the war. Guests will walk away with a fuller understanding of the complexity, magnitude, and eventual impact this invasion had on the war. One might question why this museum is in New Orleans, the answer is Andrew Jackson Higgins. Although not a household name, he was a local American hero in Louisiana. He created the LCVP (landing craft, vehicle, personnel) and PT (patrol torpedo) boats which were the primary vehicles used to carry soldiers onto Normandy. His commitment to the war is given a thorough examination. The recently added Pacific wing informs visitors that there was not just one D-Day, the United States actually had dozens. Each piece of land the U.S. liberated is analyzed and the “Island Hopping” strategy is easily digested thanks to a large LCD screen explaining the facts. If you’re a history buff or collector of World War II era items and happen to be in the New Orleans area, a trip to the National World War II Museum is a must.